Nigeria’s amnesty offered to militant groups in 2009 is on shaky ground and “could fail within months”, putting the country’s staple oil & gas industry under increased threat, a report claimed.
A clampdown on illegal bunkering by the Goodluck Jonathan administration
may push agitators back to the creeks in key oil-producing states with pipeline
attacks, abductions and other criminal behavior likely to rise as a result, the
report from Bergen Risk Solutions claimed.
Nigeria’s government and oil industry has experienced a dip
in attacks since militant groups were offered an amnesty in 2009, with many
taking up the offer and dropping their guns. However, concerns abound that much
of the promises made in the amnesty have not been carried through.
“Frustration among former militants grows as the amnesty
program fails to generate jobs and infrastructure development fails to
materialise,” the monthly report from the Norwegian risk analysis firm on the
security situation in Nigeria read.
“The amnesty is now under massive strain and local
commentators believe it could fail within months.
“The possibility that some former militants will return to
violence and sabotage of petroleum infrastructure is increasing as the so
called ‘Third Phase Militants’ continue to be denied access to the amnesty
“They are present in all the major oil producing states.
However, the clampdown on bunkering in Delta State will likely force into other
forms of criminal activity, such as kidnapping and robberies,” the report
President Jonathan still “enjoys widespread support” in the
oil-rich Niger Delta where he has “surrounded himself with a cabal of Niger
Delta indigenes who hold key appointments in the oil and gas and maritime
sectors”, according to the report.
It continued, however: “Loyalty
in the country is fickle, particularly in the Niger Delta where alliances are
made and broken with ease.
“Persistent and increasing rumours of a return to
the creeks are probably linked to the increase in violent crime and kidnapping
There were three attacks
on international stakeholders in the Niger Delta in February as against just
one in January, four in December and three in February last year, according to
the report. Oil production in the country remained relatively steady from
previous months, however, at 2.08 billion barrels for the month.
The security situation offshore is worsening, however, with
Bergen Risk Solutions arguing: “Piracy and maritime crime has “returned home”,
with an increase in attacks off the central and eastern Niger Delta since last
November. Attack frequency on the Calabar River has fallen. The offshore reach of
pirates has increased.”
Rival risk anaylsis firm AKE said in its February report
that there were eight attacks on vessels off Nigeria last month, twice the number
from January. Attacks are increasing in frequency and range with corresponding
levels of violence, it added.
AKE said “serious attacks are expected to continue off
Nigeria and Benin” with assaults “likely to involve high levels of violence
directed at crew members, and possible abduction of small numbers of crew”.
“Foreign vessels will face an increased risk of kidnap as
militancy increases in the Niger Delta, with political motives used as a
justification to carry out criminal activity. The main incentive for offshore
attacks, however, will continue to be financial,” AKE added.